A note from Maman on the Trail:
Meet Annette, a human of the outdoors. Annette lives in Wicklow County, Ireland and gets outdoors with her husband, Brian and their four children, aged 10, 8, 5 and 3. Here is her story…
On her time outdoors…
When I asked my 2 oldest what they would say we are like as a family, they both replied, on separate occasions, that we go outside a lot!
We lived for three years in Denmark, a very outdoors-minded country, and when my first born turned 3, he attended a forest kindergarten for one year, and that changed our parenting outlook for good.
We try to go outside every weekend. Our favourite activities include: hiking, (car) camping, foraging (wild garlic, gorse flowers, elderflowers, blackberries, etc.), bushcraft (lighting a campfire, den-building, etc.), wildlife spotting, skiing (when we go to France in winter), and generally exploring.
I blog at www.fouracorns.ie (in English and French) about our outdoor family adventures in Ireland.
On blogging about outdoor adventures…
I started blogging many years ago as an online family diary, and as a way of keeping family and friends posted about what we got up to, hence the bilingualism. It has since evolved into a space where I share mostly our outdoor family adventures with plenty of photos, hoping to inspire other families to go outside with their children.
Adventures R Us, or 5 reasons why we love outdoor adventures, has become our family’s philosophy. You can read the whole article here.
On Ireland vs. Denmark…
Even though Denmark and Ireland share more or less the same climate, their outdoor mindedness often seems worlds apart.
In Denmark, like in the rest of Scandinavia, people think nothing of going outside, whatever the weather, and this applies to children too, with lots of forest kindergartens and a strong emphasis on nature-based learning through the school years. Only in winter when the days are so short and dark, will the Danes retreat indoors – they invented hygge after all!
In Ireland, the emphasis is on keeping children safe, and for a lot of them, that means staying indoors, and/or under close adult supervision. The weather is also a huge deterrent for many families, or maybe it’s just an excuse! For all that though, things are slowly changing. The first nature kindergarten, modelled on Scandinavian outdoor preschools, opened its doors (so to speak) 2.5 years ago. My 5-year old spent two wonderful years there, before starting school last September. My 3-year old now attends and absolutely loves it.
On getting outdoors with 4 kids…
I was a keen babywearer, so up until last year, I always carried a baby/toddler in a sling. This meant that having a baby never stopped us from adventuring as a family. Now that they all can move under their own steam, we simply make sure the walk is not too long or too hard. But when the youngest gets tired, he still gets a lift from Daddy! Having 4 kids is not much different from having 2 when it comes to adventures – you only need to carry more food!
Last spring we took our first ever ‘real’ family hike – it was tough, even testing at times, but we won’t forget about it anytime soon! Read more on that here.
Two months later, we went camping on the south coast of Ireland, in County Wexford, and took a memorable boat trip to the Great Saltee Island. You can read more about that here.
A little Q & A…
Q: What is your go-to adventure snack?
A: Instant noodles cooked on an MSR stove* by the trail.
Q: What piece of gear do you never leave the house without?
A: My camera!
Q: What is your favourite nature quote, and who said it first?
A: I have many, but this is one of my favourites – “There is no Wi-Fi in the forest, but I promise you will find a better connection.”
Q: What one piece of advice would you share with someone who is wary of or new to the outdoors?
A: There are plenty of adventures to be had on your doorstep. Get outside and enjoy – it’s easy, it’s cheap, and it’s fantastic fun.
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